I love Stephen Kings’s use of food in his writing. It is often used as a way to connect with his characters and make them seem more real. It also works on our nostalgia with food and their tastes and smells, which seems to conjure up so many memories for us, both good and bad.
Yet we can neither taste or smell food through the page or a screen so why does food in literature and film excite or repel us so effectively???
Possibly because of our dependency on food and the fact that our entire survival relies upon it.
Food is a common theme in language. Many terms of endearment for people reference food. And this isn’t just within the English language we also see it in many other languages. Honey/Hun in the U.K., Ma Petit Chou-fleur (my little cauliflower) in France, Dulceață (Jam) in Romania. Baby Cakes in America.
The idea of ‘Eating Yourself to Death’.
As part of my research I read through this article written by Laura Allan which explains exactly what happens to you if you eat yourself to death (yes, it is an actually recognized cause of death) but please be warned, it’s kind of gross so if you think it might be distressing to you, you are probably right to skip it?
Throughout history there is a surprising number of people who have eaten themselves to death, including, Adolf Frederick, the King of Sweden who died from ‘eating vast amounts of lobster, caviar, sauerkraut, herring, champagne and an alleged 14 servings of hot milk in 1771’.
I wonder if with our modern, gluttonous, lifestyles, in a world of instant, fast food, maybe many of us are heading for the same fate. Although our cause of deaths will instead list diabetes, heart disease, liver failure…..?
‘The latest study based on a nationally representative sam-ple of U.S. adults estimates that about 112,000 deaths are associated with obesity each year in the United States.’
The concept of ‘Food to Die For’.
With a real world example of the ‘Japanese delicacy Fugu, or Blowfish.. so poisonous that the smallest mistake in its preparation could be fatal…Twenty-three people have died in Japan after eating fugu since 2000’ (BBC News) Yet people still happily pay $120 for the pleasure of eating the dangerous dish.
And examples of people who have starved themselves to death, for various reasons, including for the sake of others.
There is also a long history of food in the horror genre.
Sweeney Todd in the ‘String of Pearls: A romance’ Penny Dreadful back in 1846-1847, killing his victims and Mrs. Lovett baking them into meat pies to be sold in her Bell Yard shop to unsuspecting customers.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897) whose only way to survive is by dining on the blood of others